BLTC Press Titles

available for Kindle at

The Characters of Theophrastus


The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

A revision of the Treaty

by John Maynard Keynes


Of London

I. The Execution of the Treaty and the Plebiscites

The Treaty of Versailles was ratified on January 10,1920, and except in the plebiscite areas its territorial provisions came into force on that date. The Slesvig plebiscite (February and March, 1920) awarded the north to DenniarX,ap.,d,the south to Germany, in each case by a decisive majority. The East Prussian plebiscite (July, 1920) showed an overwhelming vote for Germany. The Upper Silesian plebiscite (March, 1921) yielded a majority of nearly two to one in favor of Germany for the province as a whole,1 but a majority for Poland in certain areas of the south and east. On the basis of this vote, and having regard to the industrial unity of certain disputed areas, the principal Allies, with the exception of France, were of opinion that, apart from the southeastern districts of Pless and Rybnik which, although they contain undeveloped coalfields of great importance, are at present agricultural in character, nearly the whole of the province should be assigned to Germany. Owing to the inability of France to accept this solution, the whole problem was referred to the League of Nations for final arbitration. This body bisected the industrial area in the interests of racial or nationalistic justice; and introduced at the same time, in the endeavor to avoid the consequences of this bisection, complicated economic provisions of doubtful efficiency in the interests of material prosperity. They limited these provisions to fifteen years, trusting perhaps that something will have occurred to revise their decision before the end of that time. Broadly speaking, the frontier has been drawn, entirely irrespective of economic considerations, so as to include as large as possible a proportion of German voters on one side of it and Polish voters on the other (although to achieve this result it has been thought necessary to assign two almost purely German towns, Kattowitz and Konigshutte, to Poland). From this limited point of view the work may have been done fairly. But the Treaty had directed that economic and geographical considerations should be taken into account also.

'More exactly, out of 1,220,000 entitled to vote and 1,186,000 actual voters, 707,000 votes or seven-elevenths were cast for Germany, and 479,000 votes or four-elevenths for Poland. Out of 1522 communes, 844 showed a majority for Germany and 678 for Poland. The Polish voters were mainly rural, as is shown by the fact that in 36 towns Germany polled 267,000 votes against 70,000 for Poland, and in the country 440,000 votes against 409,000 for Poland.

I do not intend to examine in detail the wisdom of this decision. It is believed in Germany that subterranean influence brought to bear by France contributed to the result. I doubt if this was a material factor, except that the officials of the League were naturally anxious, in the interests of the League itself, to produce a solution which would not be a fiasco through the members of the Council of the League failing to agree about it amongst themselves; which inevitably imported a certain bias in favor of a solution acceptable to France. The decision raises, I think, much more fundamental doubts about this method of settling international affairs.

Difficulties do not arise in simple cases. The League of Nations will be called in where there is a conflict between opposed and incommensurable claims. A good decision can only result by impartial, disinterested, very well-informed and authoritative persons taking everything into account. Since International Justice is dealing with vast organic units and not with a multitude of small units of which the individual particularities are best ignored and left to average themselves out, it cannot be the same thing as the cutand-dried lawyer's justice of the municipal court. It will be a dangerous practice, therefore, to entrust the settlement of the ancient conflicts now inherent in the tangled structure of Europe, to elderly gentlemen from South America and the far Asiatic East, who will deem it their duty to extract a strict legal interpretation from the available signed documents,—who will, that is to say, take account of as few things as possible, in an excusable search for a simplicity which is not there. That would only give us more judgments of Solomon with the ass's ears, a Solomon with the bandaged eyes of law, who, when he says "Divide ye the living child in twain," means it.

The Wilsonian dogma, which exalts and dignifies the divisions of race and nationality above the bonds of trade and culture, and guarantees frontiers but not happiness, is deeply embedded in the conception of the League of Nations as at present constituted. It yields us the paradox that the first experiment in international government should exert its influence in the direction of intensifying nationalism.

... from the RetroRead library, using Google Book Search, and download any of the books already converted to Kindle format.

Browse the 100 most recent additions to the RetroRead library

Browse the library alphabetically by title

Make books:

Login or register to convert Google epubs to Kindle ebooks



Lost your password?

Not a member yet? Register here, and convert any Google epub you wish

Powerd by Calibre powered by calibre